Patrick Henry College
Senior director Stephen Gibbs invited a few members of the community to attend a dress rehearsal of PHC’s fall play Much Ado About Nothing. One of the families in attendance had several small children. Towards the end of the play, during a cheerful wedding scene, Gibbs anxiously watched the performance, fretting about the positioning of props and characters on stage, worrying about the actor’s pronunciation, and overanalyzing every detail. He glanced over at the children watching the show and was amazed to see that their faces were lit up.
“They were beaming, literally sitting on the edge of their chairs, showing so much excitement even after a few hours of sitting in one place,” he said. “The apparent joy floored me, and it made me extremely happy to know that behind all the makeup, props, costumes, line changes, and blocking, there was a story which could captive an audience. If those kids are the only ones who enjoy this play, I somehow feel like it’s still a wild success.”
PHC’s rendition of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing runs through Saturday, November 23. This production is Eden Troupe’s 25th play, and its sixth Shakespeare production. Tickets can be purchased online.
The story revolves around the little boarding school, Messina Preparatory Academy. The Messina Lacrosse team, led by the steady handed Don Pedro, has just come from the final game of a successful season. Now that the “war” is over, MVP team member, the shy sophomore Claudio, begins to pursue principal Leonato’s lovely daughter, Hero. Simultaneously, the ever present class clown, Benedict, reignites a battle of wits, which could become something more, with Coach Antonio’s cocky and confident daughter, Beatrice. Will all find love? Will the vengeful benchwarmer, Don John, tear the burgeoning love of the couples apart? And what is campus security, led by the less than cunning Captain Dogberry, going to do about all this?
Gibbs is co-directing the play with fellow senior Danae McGregor. Gibbs has always loved Shakespeare and wanted to see another Shakespearean comedy performed on campus. He had hoped to direct a play, so when McGregor agreed to co-direct, he knew it would happen and he knew it would be great.
“Everyone … even those who might not know the students, will enjoy a revisitation of one of Shakespeare’s most classic comedies, with social commentary and themes that ring true even today,” Gibbs said. “The most rewarding part of this is the results: telling this story to people (for the first time, to many of them), and to see enjoyment and entertainment as they track alongside a work of classic literature.”
Senior producer Lauren Johnson had never been more involved with an Eden Troupe production than serving as house manager. She wanted, however, to play a large part in a production before she graduated. Because she came in with a lack of experience, she had a short amount of time to learn the ins and outs of Eden Troupe productions and of producing.
She has been struck by the importance of working as a team, has loved getting to know the cast and crew members, and has enjoyed watching the cast grow into their characters.
“It’s been amazing to me how such diverse talents can combine to make the play a success!” she said. “I would not have been able to do this without the enormous contributions of the people working with me.”